NBER Publications by Joyce C. Wong

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Working Papers and Chapters

June 2014Free to Leave? A Welfare Analysis of Divorce Regimes
with Raquel Fernández: w20251
During the 1970s the US underwent an important change in its divorce laws, switching from mutual consent to a unilateral divorce regime. Who benefitted and who lost from this change? To answer this question we develop a dynamic life-cycle model in which agents make consumption, saving, labor force participation (LFP), and marriage and divorce decisions subject to several shocks and given a particular divorce regime. We calibrate the model using statistics relevant to the life-cycle of the 1940 cohort. Conditioning solely on gender, our ex ante welfare analysis finds that women would fare better under mutual consent whereas men would prefer a unilateral system. Once we condition not only on gender but also on initial productivity, we find that men in the top three quintiles of the initia...
January 2014Divorce Risk, Wages, and Working Wives: A Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis of Female Labor Force Participation
with Raquel Fernández: w19869
This paper develops a quantitative life-cycle model to study the increase in married women's labor force participation (LFP). We calibrate the model to match key life-cycle statistics for the 1935 cohort and use it to assess the changed environment faced by the 1955 cohort. We find that a higher divorce probability and changes in wage structure are each able to explain a large proportion of the LFP increase. Higher divorce risk increases LFP not because the latter contributes to higher marital assets or greater labor market experience, however. Instead, it is the result of conflicting spousal preferences towards the adjustment of marital consumption in the face of increased divorce risk.
October 2011The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women's Work
with Raquel Fernández: w17508
Women born in 1935 went to college significantly less than their male counterparts and married women’s labor force participation (LFP) averaged 40% between the ages of thirty and forty. The cohort born twenty years later behaved very differently. The education gender gap was eliminated and married women’s LFP averaged 70% over the same ages. In order to evaluate the quantitative contributions of the many significant changes in the economic environment, family structure, and social norms that occurred over this period, this paper develops a dynamic life-cycle model calibrated to data relevant to the 1935 cohort. We find that the higher probability of divorce and the changes in wage structure faced by the 1955 cohort are each able to explain, in isolation, a large proportion (about 60%) of t...

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